Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to conveyor

Hi,

I am opening my own Delco in the next few months. I have been in the business for 15 years and resigned as the General Manager of a successful pizzeria to take on the role of a General Manager of a fast food restaurant. I have now decided to open my own place. I have only worked with deck ovens my whole career and am not to familiar with conveyor ovens. My plan is to open with conveyor ovens. The area I’m in I would say 90 percent of the successful shops use deck ovens. A lot of people are trying to sway me from using conveyor ovens saying things like it’s going to taste like the chain down the street, it will be chewy, you’ll never get it to be crisp, no one is going to like it, you will be out of business in a year. I have a recipe that I am going to use for my sauce which I have field tested and people like it. I am going to use a basic dough recipe. My business plan does not include deck ovens as I have set it up using the conveyors. Will anyone that has gone from deck to conveyor give me some feedback on whether they are happy or not and how the switch effected their business. Any feedback would be great.

Thank you in advance.

Errico

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

DON’T! I’m sure most people here will disagree, but in my humble opinion there is a world of difference between a pizza baked on stones and one coming out of a conveyor oven. At any rate, good luck going out on your own.

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

Check with Tom Lehman the Dough Doctor. He and I agree that the air impingement conveyor ovens produce pizzas as good as or better than deck ovens. They have the advantage of greater production and consistency of product (no under baked or over baked pizzas). Here in Michigan, Buddy’s Pizza, considered one of the top ten pizzerias in the nation, switched to conveyors years ago and still produce one of the best pizzas in the industry.

I was one of the first to promote the air impingement ovens to the industry. I have converted thousands of pizza shops from deck ovens. Every conversion has been a success. Operators experienced a 20 to 40 % increase in business, orders for well done pizzas virtually ceased as the buyers order well done because the last one they got was under baked. The need for a highly experienced oven tender was eliminated.

George Mills

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

Forget the forearm burns… the jockeying around - moving pizzas from cold spots to hot spots… or pulling out a charred cinder from time to time…

Unless you mind each pizza and watch that oven like a hawk… you WILL have inconsistent baking that varies from pizza to pizza… and day to day.

Decks became a choke point for me… just could not handle my exploding volume. I nervously transitioned by installing one conveyor and keeping a deck oven in use.

Took just a half dozen pizzas to dial in the conveyor.

Within a month I installed a second conveyor and never looked back.

Customers seemed happier getting a pizza in a reasonable time - rather than waiting 20-30 minutes for our decks to recover on busy nights.

On top of that… I cut labor costs because my cooks could concentrate on making… and drivers and counter help could snag pizzas off the belt and cut during crunch time.

And if you ever have a huge order… a conveyor will quickly spit it out in a reasonable time frame.

If you have a “performance” kitchen where customers watch all the artistry that goes along with a deck oven is part of the show… stick with it. If you need speed to handle volume - a conveyor delivers (pun intended).

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

Rico,

When I first opened up I used a deck oven, as a lot of people recommended it to set me apart from the competition. They said my product would be immensely better if I used the deck oven. What I found was an increased cost (because of the dedicated attention needed to baking the pizzas), and a very inconsistent product (and customers want consistency).

I hesitatingly switched over to conveyor, and had only compliments about the improved product quality, and shorter wait. In addition, it makes it a lot easier for productivity as anyone (drivers primarily) can hop on and start cutting pies in between runs, and it allows me to cook more pizzas at a time.

I would definitely recommend using the conveyor ovens.

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

Conveyor…all the way. Get a stack of Lloyd’s Hearth Bake Discs and you’ll not look back.

Friday night and your “pizza guy” is a no show? Crushed and need to toss another body on the make line? Only a conveyor allows you to not miss a beat. You can train ANY warm body in 10 minutes to be a pizza guy, your pie is the same today as tomorrow. What’s not to love?

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

I agree with Deaconvolker’s comment about the Hearth Bake Discs from Lloyd. They will help get the deck style bake you desire. I have been very pleased with the affect they have had on my product.

Also, work with Tom Lehman and George Mills here to ensure that your conveyor ovens are properly configured. Depending on your oven, there may be special finger arrangements that allow you to also simulate the deck oven style back in a conveyor oven.

I believe with these two areas covered you will be pleased with the bake, and enjoy the advantages of conveyor as others have described here.

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

I’ve got to ask: If you have experience only with deck ovens, and know nothing about conveyor ovens - why did you design a kitchen for conveyors?
As for the deck vs conveyor debate: If you plan to compete with the likes of Domino’s or Pizza Hut, your product will undoubtably cook just fine in a conveyor. (I’m nothing if not diplomatic…)

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

Buddy’s uses a conveyor. They have 9 stores and 22mm in sales. Do you think they are competing with Domino’s or Pizza Hut?

Furthermore, the biggest chains in the country use conveyors. Why wouldn’t you try and emulate what has been known to work?

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

If I could put in a plug for a competing trade show (if not, no offense if it’s deleted)…if it’s possible, hit up the NAPICS show in Columbus this February. Before we opened I pretty much camped out at “Doc & Jeff’s” booth and sucked up as much training as my poor brain would allow. You’ll get some inexpensive hands on training with them and should be able to find answers to any of your conveyor v. deck questions.

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

VAScotty wrote:

Buddy’s uses a conveyor. They have 9 stores and 22mm in sales. Do you think they are competing with Domino’s or Pizza Hut?

Furthermore, the biggest chains in the country use conveyors. Why wouldn’t you try and emulate what has been known to work?

What I meant was if your product was comparable to that of Domino’s or PH. Their stuff obviously cooks to their satisfaction in a conveyor. And the “biggest chains in the country” ARE Domino’s and PH, or turning out comparable product.

Re: Looking for feedback on going from a deck oven to convey

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I think I will stick with my decision to use a conveyor oven.